Apart from being famous for grapes, onions and tomatoes, Nasik or Nashik never fails to enchant a devout Hindu. Located in the north-west of Maharashtra and known to be the abode of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman during their exile years, Nasik derives its name from the Sanskrit word Nasika. It was at this place that Lakshman had chopped off the ‘Nasika’ (nose) of the demon enchantress Surpankha. It enjoys being one of the four places that carry the baton of the Kumbh Mela every twelve years. Located at the banks of Godavari, it is one of the holiest cities for having more than 100 ancient temples including the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. Touted as the fourth largest city of Maharashtra, Nasik is the wine capital of India.
Nasik for Hindus is of greater significance due to the presence of Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple on the banks of the Godavari River. It is at this place where the Hindus perform the Shraddha ceremony wishing for the salvation of the soul of family member(s) who has passed away. Several pujas offered to Lord Shiva at Trimbakeshwar include Rudra, Rudri, Laghurudra, Maha Rudra etc. The Kumbh mela in Nasik is held at Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. This being one of the biggest celebrations in India it attracts millions of devotees, who wish to take a dip in the holy waters of the Godavari River.
Some of the important temples/religious sites of Nasik are:
Panchavati – Panch in sankrit means five and the presence of five banyan trees gets this place its name. This is the northern part of the river Godavari. It is believed that Lord Ram stayed here with Sitaji and his brother Lakshman.
Tapovan – Tapovan or a place of meditation or the place meant for practicing penance. It is believed that the great sages used to sit for a Tap at this place. This place also has temples of Krishna and Lakshmi-Narayan.
Sita Gumpha – This cave temple is dedicated to Sita and has idols Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman. A legend names this site as the place where Sita was kidnapped by Ravan. The temple is situated near Panchavati.
Kalaram Mandir – Built out of black stones including the idol of Lord Ram this temple was built by the Peshwas in 1792. The temple has a special significance for all Ram devotees as it is built close to Panchavati, where Ram lived during his exite. It is believed that the temple completed after 12 long years.
Nasik is a famous weekend getaway for those Mumbaikars and Punekars seeking religious purification as well as those who seek to submerge their soul in the picturesque beauty of the Western Ghats. With its lush vineyards, the Napa of India, Nasik is a favorite of the wine connoisseurs. There are weekend vineyard tours involving a walk through the Sula, York and Zampa vineyards, a tour of the winery and wine tasting in a blue mosaic bar overlooking the marvelous, rolling vineyards surrounded by the highlands and the pictorial Gangapur Lake. One can enroll for these tours organized by some of the popular holiday planning portals.